Health Department responds to medical marijuana program’s critics; says more dispensaries are in the works

TRENTON – The state Health Department on Thursday issued the following statement following criticisms from medical marijuana advocates about what they claim is the slow pace of the program’s implemention.

The department says the implementation of other alternative treatment centers (ATCs) is in the works. Here is the statement from Health Department’s communications manager Daniel Emmer:

“Gov. Christie has taken a responsible approach to administering medical marijuana for qualified New Jersey residents. Following the opening of the first medical marijuana dispensary, the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposal doubles funding for the program with an increase of $823,000 for a total of $1.6 million.

“Just this week, the Department informed Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Twp. that it has approved the participation of several key board members and as well as its financial structure. The next step is for them to tell the program when they are ready for an inspection of their facility in order to get a permit to grow. 

“A third ATC—Compassionate Care Center of America in Woodbridge is very far along in the process. An examination of its principals and finances is ongoing.

“Two other ATCs have secured locations and examinations of their key board members are ongoing

“With the exception of Greenleaf, all ATCs have had a difficult time securing host communities. Greenleaf Compassion Center began serving patients in early December and the Department continues to work with them to increase patient access.

“To address physician education on the medicinal marijuana, the Medicinal Marijuana program has partnered with the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, the New Jersey Medical Society and the Drug Policy Alliance to provide informational webinars and an electronic library of scholarly articles and research materials.

“The (Health) Department is committed to ensuring ATCs are operated by responsible individuals who embrace our goals of timely, safe and responsible access by patients.”

Health Department responds to medical marijuana program’s critics; says more dispensaries are in the works